A Healthier Gulf Future Through Arts and Culture

This articles is excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN’s quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the Summer 2014 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.Participants at the Gulf Future Community Visioning Salon in New Orleans.Over the course of Gulf Restoration Network’s twenty-year history, we have partnered with a myriad of artists, musicians and cultural workers to organize, educate and empower communities to advocate for a healthy Gulf. In recent years, these partnerships have grown even closer.GRN recently began a unique and inspiring cultural organizing partnership with the multidisciplinary performing arts production Cry You One. As a leader in the Gulf Future Coalition, which is a diverse coalition of groups formed in the wake of the BP disaster to protect and defend the Gulf, we worked with members of Cry You One to host a series of Community Visioning Salons across the five Gulf Coast states leading up to the Coalition’s annual Gulf Gathering. Integrating art, culture and storytelling has, in the words of Coalition members, “breathed new life into the Coalition” and is “inspiring hope to continue this work” as we mark four years since the country’s biggest environmental disaster started.From household names such as Pearl Jam and Pete Seeger to artists like The Revivalists, The Breton Sound, Sassafrass, Rising Appalachia and Sarah Quintana, musicians continue to elevate the urgency of the issues we face on the Gulf Coast. GRN has represented our work at a variety of music festivals over the years, including the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Bayou Boogaloo and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.At Voodoo Music + Arts Experience 2013, Pearl Jam gave GRN a shout-out from the stage.Our cultural organizing work varies from arts-based daylong community events like the Community Visioning Salons to hosting a simple table at a band’s show. Whatever form it takes, cultural engagement through the arts is an essential part of GRN’s work. We believe the answer is in our dreams for a healthy, vibrant and sustainable Gulf Coast and our partnerships with artists are helping to bring those dreams into reality.Jayeesha Dutta is the Coordinator of the Gulf Future Coalition

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